What I Didn’t Know


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I’m glad I didn’t see
The Trump sign on the public lawn
As a harbinger
Across the street from my house
On the morning of the election

Instead, I just felt sorry for the guy who put it there.
Fat chance.

I’m glad I believed she would win
I’m glad I wore white in honor of the suffragettes
I’m glad I spent the day with my daughter and BFF
Canvassing for Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire
On a perfect fall day
The benevolent blue of the sky
The sun shining in our faces as we held up the signs
The cars honking their approval
Stronger Together

We took our picture with cardboard Hillary
We took our picture with someone dressed as a suffragette
We high-fived a union worker.
“How’s it looking?” we asked.
“We’re going to win!” everyone said.

I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming
In the same way
I was glad I didn’t know
On my tenth anniversary
That my marriage would end within a year
I got to dance with my husband that night
To believe that it was the first of many decades together
To believe in love
To believe in marriage
I remember thinking, “I am perfectly happy right this moment.”

I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming
In the same way
You were glad you didn’t know about the cancer.
You trained for the Boston Marathon
So full of determination and joy
Right up until you couldn’t breathe
And they found the stage four tumor.

I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming
In the same way
I was glad I didn’t know about the miscarriage
The night my sister and I were both
Secretly pregnant
Singing together onstage
Our tiny bellies both just beginning to round
I remember thinking “I am perfectly happy at this moment.”

Yesterday
My daughter and I drove home from New Hampshire
The leaves that perfect gold
Past peak and still shining in the sun
Stopping at the store
For drinks for our election night party
Sure to be one for the history books.

I came home to my sister and her son
Piano lessons for the kids
Take-out for the grown ups
A cake to bake.
I looked up at my sister and said,
“I am perfectly happy at this moment.”

A younger me would say, “Fool. That’s what you get for being happy. That’s what you get for believing.”
A wiser me says

That perfectly happy unstatic moment
Is all you get. So take it.

No one can take away
The fact that the canvassing office was full of familiar faces
Northampton transplanted in Keene

No one can take away
This land is your land

No one can take away
She won the popular vote
The brown
The queer
The future.
No one can take away
That we turned off the TV when it got too scary
And sang If I Had a Hammer instead

No one can take away
That we were peaceful in the end––
One more peaceful transfer of power.

No one can take away
Our own decency

No one can take away
Pantsuit Nation

No one can take away
Bruce Springsteen’s passion
Or Obama’s class
Or Michelle’s sincerity
Or Hillary’s grit

We live our lives
We have our triumphs and tragedies
We get to keep it all, every bit of it.

If I had known,
I would have lost the day
And that might have been worse
Than losing the election.

Nerissa Nields
Nov. 9, 2016

 

This poem was written as part of 30 Poems in November, a benefit to raise money for Center for New Americans, a Western MA organization that provides welcoming services and literacy for recent immigrants. For more information, or to sponsor me, go here

 

 

 

 

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